And she wants to dance in Ennis
Denise Connie Ahlert, better known as D.C., is the youngest of four girls who all took dance classes growing up. “I told my parents, at least I made a career out of it, so they paid off! But I couldn’t imagine doing anything else,” Ahlert said.
There are a few different ways dancers end up making a career out of the art—by packing up and moving to New York City to pursue Broadway or more prestigious ballet companies, going to the other side of the country and diving into the commercial dance industry in Los Angeles, or going the Disney/cruise ship route.
Ahlert’s direction aimed toward the latter.
She grew up in the Orlando area and started performing at Disney World when she was 16. As high school graduation came around, she decided to stay and attend college while dancing at Disney.
Ahlert’s background is typical of just about any dancer these days. She trained in ballet, tap, jazz, modern, acrobatics, hip hop, ballroom, Polynesian and more. Being a diverse performer has become essential if one plans on continuing into the performance industry—everyone can do everything anymore and having a trick up your sleeve gives you an edge.
In a professional setting, a dancer’s job is to bring a choreographer’s vision to life. Ahlert used her training to do this, performing in parades and shows and while on tour with Disney, traveling all over the country to entertain.
“I loved the Christmas parades, they were my favorite,” she said. “Disney always knew how to do the holidays right.”
While on the Princess Cruise line, Ahlert was the dance captain and a senior assistant cruise director. She was responsible for knowing seven different hour-long shows as a dancer, was in charge of the dancers during performances as the dance captain and coordinated staff during the day as the senior assistant cruise director, reporting directly to the cruise director. This management experience proved to be useful when Ahlert stopped performing and eventually became an entertainment and stage manager for Disney World.
Traveling all over was amazing, but never really having a resting spot became taxing, Ahlert explained. She left the cruise line and went back to Orlando to teach and choreograph for Disney, which included setting moves for the Power Rangers at the theme park.
“It was very interesting because I didn’t really have that much martial arts background, so I had to do a lot of studying. We also had to make it presentational and also pretty exciting for the audience. So, I did a lot of studying and took a lot of classes,” Ahlert explained.
Devoting herself to dance did more for Ahlert than give her opportunities including a feature role with the Disney World All-American College Band, portraying Esmeralda from the Hunchback of Notre Dame on the Disney Hollywood Studios stage and doing the can-can in Tokyo. It gave her an unquenchable passion and 50 plus years of insight to provide to aspiring dancers.
Ahlert posted a query on the Ask Ennis Facebook page to get an idea of the interest in dance classes in Ennis. The post received 100 plus comments, ranging from people asking for classes for their kids to wanting classes for themselves.
Now, Ahlert is looking to create a schedule based off another post asking Facebook group members what times work best, what styles are wanted and if dancers would be interested in performing in an end-ofthe-year recital. Studio space is another element still needed.
“I still miss teaching and I still miss dance because it’s been so much a part of my soul,” she said, and that feeling never really goes away. She hopes to share the passion, experience and life-skills that dance gave her with those young and old in Ennis.
Those interested may email Ahlert at firstname.lastname@example.org.